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24 Dec, 2021 12:53

China exerts global rare earths dominance

China exerts global rare earths dominance

Beijing has set up a giant rare earths corporation by merging several of the country’s major producers. It is expected to help China to extend global control over the industry it has dominated for decades.

The mega-mining entity has been formed by consolidating rare earth subsidiaries of state-owned corporations such as China Minmetals, Aluminum Corporation of China, and Ganzhou Rare Earth Group, according to a stock exchange filing seen by Bloomberg.

Dubbed China Rare-Earths Group, the new enterprise is expected to ramp up the development of mines in the south. Its share of the production quota for medium and heavy rare earths in China reportedly amounts to around 70%, and about 40% of total rare earths production, including light rare earths.

The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) will own a 31.21% stake in the new corporation, while Chinalco, China Minmetals, and Ganzhou Rare Earth Group will each hold 20.33%, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The announcement sent China Minmetals Rare Earth stock soaring 8.5% on the Shenzhen exchange, while Aluminum Corporation of China gained more than 5% in Shanghai.

Rare earth metals are a group of 17 chemical elements which are actually not rare but difficult to find in necessary concentrations, and difficult to process as the ores often contain naturally occurring radioactive materials such as uranium and thorium.

The elements are widely used by manufacturers of products such as cell phones, automobiles, military equipment, and even dishwashers. Rare earth metals are extracted by miners from India, South Africa, Canada, Australia, Estonia, Malaysia, and Brazil.

However, China leads the world’s rare earths sector in terms of production and refining technologies. The country accounted for 58% of production worldwide in 2020, according to the US Geological Survey.

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